Four Hawkeyes were recognized at the First-Generation Students Awards and Recognition Ceremony Nov. 11 as part of the weeklong National First-Generation College Celebration.
The UI First-Generation Task Force established the awards to recognize first-gen student achievements as well as the outstanding advocacy and support efforts of faculty and staff.
Student recipients of the awards are Mary Aldugom and Mishma Nixon. Faculty/staff recipients are Carolyn Colvin and Danielle Martinez.
First-Generation Student Achievement Award
Mary Aldugom is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The Chicago native is a graduate student in the Communication, Cognition, and Learning Lab, where she examines how manipulations to instructional design can enhance mathematical learning in children and adults. Aldugom completed her undergraduate degree at North Park University in Chicago, where she was president of the Psychology Club, president of the Middle Eastern Student Association, and a psychology department teaching assistant. At Iowa, she co-founded and co-directs Our Collective Brains, an organization that supports first-gen and underrepresented minority students in the psychological and brain sciences and neuroscience departments.
Mishma Nixon is a senior from Colombo, Sri Lanka, majoring in English and creative writing with a minor in social justice. As a first-gen and international student, she has held leadership positions in the Campus Activities Board, South Asian Student Alliance, and International Student Advisory Board. She is a writing fellow at the UI Writing Center and a UI Honors Program administrator and peer mentor. Nixon was awarded the Global Student Award in 2020 and an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) fellowship for 2020–21. She has also received various award from the English department and UI Honors Program. Nixon’s career goal is to facilitate stories and promote access to diverse children’s literature for children who grow up in the Global South.
Award for Outstanding First-Generation Student Advocacy
Carolyn Colvin is an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. Colvin was teaching at San Diego State University and learned of West Liberty, Iowa, by watching NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. With a job offer at Iowa, Colvin traveled to West Liberty and formed relationships with many immigrant residents. Since 1993, she has directed an adult tutoring program for immigrant adults seeking to learn English. Many adults brought their children to English class, which made the Thursday evening classes a family affair. In 2012, in partnership with the West Liberty School District and supported by UI funding, Colvin began collaborating with the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment and family members of the West Liberty immigrant community to recruit first-gen students/students of color to the university. In the 13 years of the mentoring program, an estimated 300+ West Liberty students have enrolled at the UI.
Danielle Martinez serves as the director of student retention within the Academic Support and Retention department at the UI. In her role, Martinez coordinates campuswide early intervention and student success initiatives, and also provides support, guidance, and mentorship to undergraduate students. Before joining the Academic Support and Retention team, Martinez worked in diversity and social justice programs, housing and residence life, and student success programs at several institutions. She is particularly interested in student retention, intersections of social justice, identity formation, and practical application. Martinez has facilitated workshops and trainings for various institutions and organizations, and continuously provides support through individualized assistance and creating safe and equitable spaces for historically marginalized populations.